Behavior Strategies

Alphabet of Thankfulness: D is for Daily Routines

Children learn best through repetition. So, it is important to offer repetitive activities for reinforcement of skills you are teaching. In younger grades and in every level of special education, a morning calendar time is important for so many areas of learning. Click here to for more on Morning Meeting – Circle Time.

In addition to  morning meeting or calendar circle, there are other daily routines that students need to be taught. These include social skills and things as simple as toileting or hand washing. When students of any age or level know what is coming next or what is expected of them, they find it easier to focus on what they are doing now. Many times, student misbehavior is caused by perceptions of things to come. To alleviate negative behaviors, students need a routine in which they can relax and know their time frames and boundaries. Some example of these would be as follows:

Toileting Routine:


Obviously you could add more or less to this as needed.

Picture Schedule:


This is a small section of a full day schedule

Hallway Procedures:


Students change the location they are headed to before they leave the room each time.

These picture cards were created in Board Maker, but could easily be created with clip art or by taking actual photo’s of activities and locations. Each has velcro on the back so it can be removed and manipulated as needed.


Alphabet of Thankfulness – B is for Bubbles


first – then board

Today and every day, I am thankful for bubbles. Reinforcers are very important in a classroom of students with Autism Spectrum disorders, or really any classroom. For some students bubbles are a powerful reinforcement solution. Every student in my class responds to bubbles in a positive way, but for some, they are worth doing work that nothing else will motivate them to do. I introduce the bubbles at the same time as I introduce the task to be completed by setting both in front of the student and showing the student a first-then board.

My first-then boards are nothing more than velcro on a laminated page. They should be very simple as to not distract the student from the reason for the choice board; getting them to learn. These work great at home as well. In fact, having students use the same supports at home as they use in the classroom are a powerful aid in their learning process. They learn to follow instructions the same way wherever they are. They begin to realize that Mom, Dad, Teachers, everyone wants them to follow the same task for reward system and it becomes not only easier for the student to follow, but easier for parents and teachers to manage. Most people, including our students, are creatures of habit. The more the habit crosses from school to home, the more quickly they will master it.

So, today I am thankful for bubbles, bouncy balls, fidget boxes, and other powerful reinforcers in my classroom!

First-Then Board FREEBIE!

Teacher Area # 1

Notice I didn’t say, “teacher desk“. That’s because I don’t have one. I started the 12-13 school year with a desk, in fact I finished over half of that school year with a desk, but in the Spring a new student moved into our room who liked to hide under our desks when avoiding work. Actually, this student hid under anything low enough to the ground to effectively conseal him. For some students this is a sensory issue. For example, the light in the room may be too bright for them so they want to put their face or their whole body under something. For others it may just be an avoidance mechanism. Either way, by removing the desk(s) and other items of interest from our room, I was able to assist this student with his ability to make more appropriate choices. What teacher spends much time sitting at a desk anyway? Certainly not one in a self-contained special education classroom.

My little corner of the room

I used to think of my desk as the place where I worked, but I actually work all over the room, not at a specific desk. Getting rid of my desk showed this to me very clearly. Other than the initial discomfort of finding all the things that were originally in my desk drawers that were moved to the filing cabinet, I have not missed having a desk. Honestly, I kind of enjoy not having one. It just took up space that I could better use for student needs. I have played around with different tables; straight, round, and horseshoe. When I moved to this new room, jackpot! There were two horseshoe tables which enabled me to place one in an area that is set up for language arts and one in the math-science area. Both are key spaces for working with multiple students and both areas need this kind of functional table.

There are several key items in the above photo which I would like to point out:

      • Filing cabinets – there are actually two of them back to back which serve a few purposes; separating my area from students at the computer tables, providing an additional place to post items I need to have at an arms reach.

My filing cabinet wall. I saw it on Pinterest!

  • Narrow computer table – I love this table. It just happened to be in my room when I moved to this campus last year and I brought it with me to my new room this year. It is just the right size to hold my computer, phone, binder, etc. and yet narrow enough that a student would not benefit much from crawling under it. Perfect!

My computer desk


Lesson Planning Binder


Substitute Binder

  • Personal effects on the wall and not on tables and shelves – It helps to feel at home in my classroom, especially on days or weeks when I feel like I live there! I recommend putting things up high so that students do not accidentally break or misplace them. Some students would be very sad to have hurt you in that manner, and you too would be sad if you lost something of importance.

My bulletin board filled with mementos and certificates.


Self Crafted sign for the wall – Decorated acrylic letters

It’s important to have your own teacher area, but it’s not important that it looks the way you remember a teachers area from your own childhood. Do what’s best for your students and make it your own!

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